An award-winning composer

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LOREN BENOIT/Press North Idaho College student Sam Rainey won the Jack Stone Award for New Music, for the second year in a row. Rainey often uses the piano to compose music. “It’s like a second voice,” Rainey said. The Jack Stone competition was started in 2010 by Beth May, a composer, author, illustrator and educator, as a chance to encourage creative competition among college students.


Staff Writer

North Idaho College student Sam Rainey is the first-place winner of the Jack Stone Award for New Music for the second year in a row.

The Jack Stone competition is a national contest open to all community college students in the country who are enrolled at least ¾-time in an associate’s degree program. Each year, participants are challenged with specific instrumentation requirements, this year’s being violin and trombone.

Sam will fly to San Antonio on March 27 to attend a master class where he and the two runners-up will discuss their pieces and answer questions, followed by a concert where the three winning selections will be performed by professional musicians.

Last year, Sam won first place for his composition called “NYC Traffic Jam,” which was a saxophone quartet piece. This year’s selection is called “Paradise Found.”

“It’s very challenging to write for trombone and violin,” Rainey said. “It doesn’t take as much time, but it is challenging to make it sound good. My idea was for orchestra, but I kind of minimized it into the two parts.”

The piece is four minutes and 30 seconds long and took Rainey about a month to compose.

“‘Paradise Found,’ as a title, doesn’t have too much significance, but the saying is, ‘Paradise lost is paradise found,’ so that’s what I called it,” Rainey said.

His middle school days at Canfield in Coeur d’Alene are when his interest in music was launched. Rainey had taken lessons in piano and saxophone through Northwest Academy of Music as a second-grader, but, as his mom, Gretchen Coats, explains, in the eighth grade, Doug Woods, Canfield’s music teacher, was instrumental in helping Rainey develop his love of music.

“He showed that Sam was unique and talented. He had him do some saxophone solos and really highlighted Sam’s talents. I think he was trying to give him a sense of self and some notoriety, and I think he was essential to Sam’s growth,” Coats said.

“I recall Sam as a diligent, if unsure, middle schooler,” said Woods of his former student. “That’s what is so great about what we do. We take a room full of hesitant adolescents with great potential and work together every day toward the unattainable goal of perfection.

“In the meantime, they develop real and deep connections with their peers, relationships with their community, and belief in themselves and in the musical art they are creating. Sam has always been a willing learner with a curious mind. He and his classmates found meaningful purpose in their journey together through the pursuit of musical skill. I can’t wait to see where he goes.”

For Rainey, it was the music of the big screen that had him realizing he could pursue music in life.

“I really got into movies in middle school, and me and my friends would go see all the big movies at the time and a lot of times those movies would have really great soundtracks, and I thought combining movies and composition would be the coolest thing ever,” Rainey said.

“It may be a little challenging getting into that as a career, but I feel a little more hopeful based off of winning these competitions.”

After graduating from NIC this summer, Rainey has plans to move to California and apply to the University of Southern California or the University of California, Los Angeles to further his education in music.

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